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Lake Christine Fire, Many Voices One Valley

On the evening of July 3rd, 2018, a fire began at the Basalt gun range. It eventually spread to over 11,000 acres, down to the edges of Basalt and El Jebel. 2,100 residents were forced to evacuate their homes. At one point, over 600 firefighters and support personnel worked to contain the fire, including local and national responders.

The entire Roaring Fork Community was affected. Some took in friends or neighbors. Some employees could not make it to work. Some were evacuated and went to work anyway. Daycares were closed. Animals, large and small, were taken in on farms and through non-profits. 

Aspen Public Radio was on the scene and on the air with emergency announcements and twice-an-hour updates during the week-long threat from the Lake Christine Fire. We stay on the scene now, collecting the stories of those whose lives changed due to the fire- how they helped, what they lost, what they gained and what they learned.

You can share your story with us in many ways, and listen to the stories below.

We are Many Voices, One Valley. 

 The Aspen Public Radio news team is collecting the stories of those whose lives changed due to the fire- how they helped, what they lost, what they gained and what they learned. Listen to those stories here.

You can still share your story with us in many ways.

Danielle

Jul 17, 2018

Danielle and her family live in Missouri Heights.  They remember being evacuated at 1 a.m. on July 5th. The young children recall watching the fire start while jumping on their trampoline. They recount their time spent in the evacuation centers and how they had to manage.

Christian Mendez

Jul 17, 2018

Christian Mendez stayed at the Red Cross evacuation center at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale during the Lake Christine Fire. He describes coming back home to find holes burned into his clothes from the fire's embers.    

Chris Stoner

Jul 17, 2018

Chris Stoner's home in Old Snowmass was threatened by a wildfire in 2004, and the Lake Christine fire brought back memories of being evacuated.  She's now housing the animals of evacuees on her ranch.  She says the community's reaction after the fire has made her "love where we live even more now." 

Wild animals lost over 6000 acres of their habitat to the fire. Angie Riley, her son Sawyer and her daughter Kieley were driving near Spring Park Reservoir during the fire when they saw a fawn stuck in an irrigation ditch.  Sawyer and Angie say they didn’t hesitate before jumping in to free the deer.   

Suzanne Kelly

Jul 17, 2018

Suzanne Kelly was evacuated from El Jebel.  After a jarring wake-up call telling her to leave, she didn't think her house would be standing in the morning. She describes packing a “mishmash” of items, including one shoe.  She says that the fire has brought her much closer to her neighbors and community, and how thankful she is for all of the first responders. 

Kristin Santos

Jul 17, 2018

Kristin Santos lives on Hill Crest Drive. She talks about the police knocking on her door and telling her she had five minutes to leave her house. After quickly packing up her essentials, she didn't know what the future would hold. She thinks back on the entire experience and is now more prepared for any future disasters.   

Terry Christiansen

Jul 17, 2018

Terry Christiansen, a resident of Elk Run, describes being able to feel the heat of the fire.  She packed her mother’s ashes as she gathered belongings when she was evacuated.  She says she’ll never forget just how close the fire was and how many people it affected.

Penney Evans Carruth

Jul 17, 2018

Penney Evans Carruth is the former board chair of Aspen Public Radio.  From her home in Missouri Heights, she recalls watching the fire crest over the hill at the exact same moment firefighters started a controlled burn to try and contain it.  She says, “It was a thermal vortex.”

Alan Fletcher

Jul 17, 2018

Alan Fletcher is president and CEO of the Aspen Music Festival and School.  He lives in Missouri Heights. When he got the evacuation notice, he says, he had to go around his house “deciding what is precious.” 

Greg Sugars

Jul 17, 2018

Greg Sugars, from Aspen Junction, relies on his prosthetics to walk.  He recalls how that made both of his evacuations even more difficult.  He also talks about facing a dilemma common to Lake Christine evacuees...what to do with his pet. 

Cerena Thomsen

Jul 17, 2018

Cerena Thomsen lives in Basalt.  She came out of City Market on July 4th and saw the fire cresting over El Jebel. That's when everything clicked and she knew this was really happening. She accounts the roller-coaster of emotions that occured as she was forced to stay with friends during her evacuation.

Leland Dodds

Jul 17, 2018

Leland Dodds is a firefighter from Oregon and part of the federal type 2 incident management team.  Dodds speaks about being humbled by the community support shown for firefighters and first responders. The overwhelming community support really spoke volumes to Dodds and his crew. 

Brandon Deter

Jul 16, 2018

Brandon Deter, a Carbondale firefighter, describes fighting the fire on the night of July 4th, alternating between spraying fire and houses. He says the embers falling reminded him of a snowstorm...except it was made of fire.